T+L Reports: Penang, Montreal, Atlanta
Pretty in Penang
The Malaysian island of Penang has regained a bit of its past, thanks to a new hotel and a major restoration of a classic one. In the Georgetown neighborhood, the 19th-century residence of a flamboyant Chinese tycoon has been turned into a 16-room hotel. With five courtyards and 220 Art Nouveau stained-glass windows, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (14 Leith St.; 60-4/262-5289; doubles from $157) is considered a masterpiece of feng shui architecture—it aligns with the sea and mountains. Across town, a $20 million reconstruction has reversed a century of slow decline at the 101-suite Eastern & Oriental Hotel (10 Farquhar St.; 60-4/261-8333; doubles from $216), built in 1884 by the Sarkies brothers—founders of Raffles in Singapore. The public areas are now paved in Italian marble, and guests receive a daily supply of chocolates from the hotel's own confectionery.
Rome's Fashion Fusion
In a 16th-century palazzo steps from Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo, the craftwork of India meets the tailoring of Italy. Fabindia, the first foreign venture for India's cult store, carries intricate handmade clothing, and accessories like lavish cotton handbags designed by Nicholas Vreeland (grandson of Vogue icon Diana Vreeland) and sewn at a Tibetan refugee settlement in India. Fabindia, 40 Via di Banco di Santa Spirito; 39-06/6889-1230.
Columbus Has Landed
Monaco's modern Fontvieille quarter now houses a sleekly stylish hotel that gives you the royal treatment at affordable prices. The Columbus Monaco is the first in a new hotel chain from Ken McCulloch, founder of the hugely successful Scottish group Malmaison. Every detail—chocolate leather furnishings, vintage Lartigue photos of the Riviera, high-tech cabinets stocked with video games—was masterminded by McCulloch himself. His ultimate amenity: a yacht to ferry guests to nearby beaches. Columbus Monaco, 23 Ave. des Papalins; 377/92-05-91-67; doubles from $170.
Rugged Good Looks
Victorinox (a.k.a. the Swiss Army Knife company) has something up its sleeve for fall: a new line of outdoor clothing. All tagged with that well-known symbol of neutrality, these durable pieces are created for tech-savvy men who are as comfortable snowboarding the Alps as they are braving the urban landscape. For information, call 866/997-9477.
Mark DeCocinis, manager of Shanghai's Portman Ritz-Carlton, might not cut it as a Hell's Angel, but he still loves his 1938 sidecar motorcycle. So much so that he's taking guests on two-hour shotgun tours of the city when they splurge on the hotel's $18,000 two-night Bike Pack (included: a made-to-order leather jacket). Portman Ritz-Carlton, 1376 Nanjing Xi Rd.; 86-21/6279-8888.
Montreal's Northern Lights
The hotel scene in Montreal got a jolt when the minimalist 101-room Hôtel Le Germain (2050 Rue Mansfield; 877/333-2050; doubles from $150) recently splashed on the scene. It was soon followed by the revamp of Château Versailles (1659 Rue Sherbrooke; 888/933-8111; doubles from $145), where 65 color-mad chambers have an Arabic feel. Behind the Beaux-Arts façade of the new St. Paul Hotel (355 Rue McGill; 800/337-4685; doubles from $118) are 144 monochromatic rooms. And in an 1870 town house, the 48-room Hôtel Place d'Armes (701 Côte de la Place d'Armes; 888/450-1887; doubles from $103) mixes Neoclassical elements with tasteful—no joke—heart-shaped-tubs.
San Fran Soothe
The City by the Bay is known for many things—but not great day spas. That is, until Re:fresh opened its industrial-style doors, giving San Franciscans a true urban oasis, with soaring ceilings, cool concrete floors, and furnishings from around the world. For aching city feet, there's a decadent aromatherapy pedicure that includes a soak in an herbal flower bath. Re:fresh, 1130 Post St.; 415/563-2316.
British designer Marko Matysik has created a luxe line of travel accessories that instantly caught the fancy of Madonna and Donatella Versace. His mink headrest (pictured, $1,150) holds pods filled with aromatherapeutic scents (relaxing Lie Me Down, energizing Pick Me Up). And his similarly plush hot-water bottle ($2,300) warms the chilliest of hotel beds. They're haute antidotes to jet lag. Available at Barneys New York, or call 44-207/351-7029.
Join The Club
On a narrow alley in Ho Chi Minh City, the Temple is a modern take on the turn-of-the-century dinner club, where you can lounge around low tables and sip lemongrass tea. Feel at home?You could be: the French Art Deco and Vietnamese furnishings are for sale. Temple Club, 29—31 Ton That Thiep St.; 84-8/829-9244.
Always on the prowl for the latest culinary hotbed, New York restaurateur Matthew Kenney turned his compass south of the Mason-Dixon to Atlanta for the second outpost of Commune (1198 Howell Mill Rd.; 404/609-5000; dinner for two $65). Giving Kenney a run for his money is chef Filippo Saporito—formerly of Tuscany's acclaimed Arnolfo—who does wonders with lamb chops at Terra di Siena (654 Peachtree St.; 404/885-7505; dinner for two $90). The hotter-than-hot Spice (793 Juniper St.; 404/875-4242; dinner for two $110) is making waves in a sprawling glass-and-cherrywood space. Chef Mark Alba, an Atlanta native, gives regional ingredients—seared Georgia white shrimp, sweet-corn broth—a global spin.
Putting On The Dog
L.A.'s new Fifi & Romeo boutique is home to the recently minted concept of canine couture, applied to finery for pooches 35 pounds and under. The cashmere sweaters and patchwork blankets have a loyal (and regal) following. Prince Charles ordered a blanket for his pup—must be chilly back at the palace. Fifi & Romeo, 7282 Beverly Blvd.; 323/857-7214.
In 18th-century Rajasthan, maharajahs wore jewelry intricately crafted in the Kundan Meena tradition—one piece can take up to six months to enamel and engrave, and no two creations are alike. Ben and Ruchi Kothari, two Indian designers, are bringing their own version to the States. Their diamond, pearl, and gold "token of love" necklace retails for a cool $5,000. Call 866/786-4372 for stores.
High Delta Design
Opulent teak furniture, 17th-century Buddhas, and scads of incense add an Asian flair to Uruguay's 44-room Madison Resort, which recently opened on the forested shores of R’o de la Plata. The massive river delta separates the village of Carmelo from nearby Buenos Aires, and its white-sand beaches serve as a romantic backdrop. Madison Resort, Ruta 21, Carmelo; 598-542/9000; doubles from $250.